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Alcohol-fueled car crash left Kevin Brooks paralyzed and killed his childhood friend

Imagine if you woke up one day and you couldn't wiggle your toes. What would that be like?

Kevin Brooks usually opens his presentations with this question. He then takes his audience on an emotional roller-coaster ride with his story of how one poor decision changed his life forever.

COURTESY PHOTO - Kevin Brooks, who became a paraplegic following a drunk-driving crash, wants to help youth make good decisions.Brooks' passionate storytelling has a purpose: "My life's mission is to share my journey with others in a way that will prevent them from making similar life-altering or life-ending decisions."

Brooks will shares his story in Oregon City on Oct. 2, beginning the day talking with Oregon City High School students then ending the evening at a community event open to everyone. His visit is hosted by Oregon City Together, a drug-free community coalition.

"Kevin's honesty and authenticity convey how much he cares about making a difference for young people," said Laura Poore, chairperson of Oregon City Together. "We encourage all parents and guardians to bring their middle and high-school-age children to the community event.

Poore adds that people still tell her today how hearing Kevin's story positively influenced their lives.

"He spoke at the high school a few years ago and you could hear a pin drop, the students were so intent on his words," Poore said. "One student who heard Kevin in the morning was so impressed he insisted his parents bring his middle-school-age sister and several of her friends to the evening event. His mother told me she had never seen her son so inspired."

Inspiring and thought-provoking are words used frequently to describe Brooks. His story begins with a night when his decisions and actions lead to an alcohol-fueled car crash that left him paralyzed and killed his childhood friend, Brendon Beuk.

"I never thought something that night would change my life forever," Brooks said. "I was partying and it never even occurred to me something like this could happen."

Brooks spent six weeks bedridden in the hospital learning how to breathe again on his own. It was in the hospital that his mother finally told him the news about his friend. He was consumed by guilt.

"I do not need to know you to not wish this upon you," Brooks tells his audiences. "For anyone, ever."

At nearly every presentation, Brooks has chairs set up next to him to represent Beuk as well as two other friends he has lost during the years.

"This keeps me going," Brooks said. "I am here for a reason... While I have done thousands of presentations, I still try to top the last one."

When asked about young people's reaction to his presentations, he said, "I want to make them laugh, I want to make them cry and I want to make them wiggle their toes. But most of all, I want to help them make wise decisions."

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Inspire!

WHAT: An evening with Kevin Brooks

WHEN: 6 p.m. light dinner followed by 6:30-8 p.m. presentation and Q/A on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019

WHERE: Oregon City High School, 19761 S. Beavercreek Road

COST: Free

INFO: Learn more and RSVP at octogether.org


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